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Minister of Interior Asks People to Respect Traffic Laws, Rejects Out-of-Court Settlements

PHNOM PENH: When traffic accidents occur and result in injuries or deaths, perpetrators often try to settle the case with money given to ‘compensate’ victims or their families. The Minister of Interior, DPM Sar Kheng, has stated that he does not support such settlements and urges all to respect traffic laws.

Speaking to the media on the occasion of the 17th World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Wednesday morning, 7 December, DPM Sar Kheng stated that he does not think settling cases of traffic accidents with money should be regarded as normal.

“Some cases involve [only the] individual citizens, while others may also involve the police. I want to know the specific information [of the case] in order to take appropriate action, and I do not support this action [of settling with money],” he said.

The Interior Minister further expressed his regret for traffic accidents that cause the deaths of drivers or passengers on the road.

He appealed to the people by saying, "We all need to be aware and supportive of efforts to reduce road accidents. The important thing is that the people, travelers, all people out on the streets, have to obey the traffic laws."

Recently, a traffic accident occurred on the Chroy Changva bridge that caused three people to be seriously injured, including an infant who was rushed to the emergency room at Kantha Bopha Hospital. The drunk driver who caused the accident was arrested by authorities, however, he settled the case with the victims by providing them US $2,500 in compensation. Despite this, the driver’s case is still being sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, particularly following public outrage.

The Minister of Justice, Koeut Rith, once stated that drivers who cause deaths in road accidents must be held responsible before the criminal law.

"When something like this happens, there is a link of responsibility between the perpetrator and the victim,” he said.

He added that if the perpetrator is an employee or driver of a company or other institution, the company or institution should also be held responsible for compensating damages to victims and of public property.

Lawyer So Sok Bunthet confirmed to EAC News that the perpetrator in this case could be liable under Article 85 of the Road Traffic Law, which states that anyone who drives recklessly and causes deaths shall face a prison sentence of one to three years and be fined four to 15 million riel.

He continued that if a person is driving under the influence with an alcohol rate of 0.04 to 0.08 mg/L (per liter of blood), causes deaths through a road accident and then flees the scene, such individuals would face a sentence of two to five years in prison and a fine of 10 to 25 million riel. At the same time, road accident perpetrators may also be charged under Article 53 of the criminal law.

The lawyer added that perpetrators not only have to pay a fine to the state but are also required to compensate victims according to the situation caused. He also said that if a victim refuses to accept the compensation offered by the perpetrator, the victim can then seek help from the court to receive a level of compensation that they see fit.

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